For the better portion of my life, all voices except that of Scripture defined my understanding of sex and intimacy.
My first encounter with a biblically-centered conversation on this topic was through Linda Dillow and Lorraine Pintus’ book, Intimate Issues. The wise words and principles put forth in the pages of this book truly shifted my paradigm. So imagine my excitement when I opened a package from Moody Publishers and found an actual study on the issue of sex, Passion Pursuit: What Kind of Love Are You Making?, written by none other than Linda Dillow and Dr. Juli Slattery.
Considering I had just completed a degree in biblical studies, I dove right in — excited, but also a little nervous as to how this first study post-graduation would play out. Would it provide enough depth? Would it be scripturally sound? Would it use examples and verses in context, or would the study cherry-pick for the sake of making a point?
Biblically sound? Absolutely.
Dillow and Pintus open the study by painting a portrait of me as strong woman who is in possession of God-given power that is not to be abused in the context of relationship. Through concise refocusing of the purpose of my strengths, I was immediately given opportunity to practice investing in my marriage through simple readjustments. I soon found myself making small choices each day to better reflect respect, embrace companionship, and allow intimate connection. I was surprised at how easily the principles in Passion Pursuit translated into application.
Here’s an example: In a house with five children, I guard my writing time with the ferocity of a lion. But remembering the gentle reminder to be available in my relationship and cultivate time together in the simple things, I was able to let go of the writing slot one day and join my husband in one of his favorite activities — gardening. It was a small choice with a big payoff. The next night he took over dinner with the kids so I could go out of the house and write. The space and investment we made for each other offered a tone of support.
If I wasn’t hooked already, Week 2 would have done me in. Rather than focus on the busy and quintessential wife of Proverbs 31, Dillow and Slattery took me into the Song of Songs to meet the woman whom they name “The Smokin’ Hot Mama.” Their reasoning for this is beautiful — the Proverbs 31 woman “gets half a chapter with 21 verses while SHM gets eight chapters with 117 verses.” Yes! That’s what I’m talking about.
Throughout the study, as a wife, I was encouraged to understand God’s delight with sex, instigate sex in marriage, and embrace the erotic language of the Song of Songs. The latter is accomplished through the fun — albeit initially embarrassing — practice of paraphrasing the language of Song of Songs into contemporary prose.
If there is a weakness to the study, it is addressed in one of the days during Week 9. The authors ask, “What if your desire is more than that of your husband?” I have known several women for whom this statement is true. I wish the authors would have considered putting this in the front of the book so that these women wouldn’t work through 9.5 weeks of study wondering what is wrong with their marriage that it doesn’t follow the stereotypical pattern. To those women I say, “Stick with it!”
In Passion Pursuit, Dillow and Slattery do a very good job of addressing the mind, heart, spirit, and body of sexual intimacy within marriage. For those places that leave you, like me, feeling like you are swimming against the current, the hard work will surely offer a foundation for healing and rebuilding the love being made in your house.
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"Real life is not always pleasant. Every marriage experiences disappointments, misunderstandings, sickness and financial crisis. Ashleigh doesn’t camouflage the pain in her own marriage, and offers practical ideas on how to walk through the difficulties and find intimacy on the journey. If you are anything like me, I predict that as you read, you too will find yourself laughing, wiping tears, and saying 'Oh, yes.'"
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